frog's blog

Anuran, n. an amphibian of the order Salientia (formerly Anura or Batrachia), which includes the frogs and toads

Monday, November 28, 2005


A white man named Duke is crying on TV.

Radio, Cable, Website, Blog, it’s on every channel, a perennial Republican politician is balling his eyes out because he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, “admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes mostly from defense contractors in exchange for government business and other favors,” to be exact. Sure, this conservative who looks more like a crook, this pathetic political convict will get some hard time, but that’s not the half of it.

That’s not why I’m crying tonight.

We live in a society that produces misery for millions of the working poor as a matter of course and starves billions on slave wages in the developing world. So why do we have to pay to see another rich, white man cry?

Misery. Tragedy. Words that suffer when compared to the reality of life on Earth in the year 2005. Thousands die in wars for profit, wars based on lies. Then there’s the collateral damage caused by global warming and chronic ecocide. Hurricane. Tsunami. Earthquake. Tornado. Those bible thumping beggars for the apocalypse get what they paid for. Pass the popcorn and the Hal Lindsey novels.

This holiday weekend, a student of mine went home to find that her mother had taken her own life with a gun while planning a Thanksgiving dinner. A housemate’s brother fell from a tree to a bleeding brain and likely loss of his legs. Another comrade’s lover caught fire while cooking. Today, my wife remembers the fifteenth anniversary of her first daughter’s death, the stepdaughter I never knew.

These are personal tragedies worthy of the tears that will likely never fill the dry creekbed of the soul after a season of draught. These are the tears that will water the compost of the soul to create a spring garden of growth. These are tears worth crying, the tears of mother, daughter, sister, lover.

But the tears of a political clown? On national television? He steals from the poor to feed the war machine and wants us to feel sorry for him?

For the families of New Orleans, for the workers who got pink slips for the Christmas season, for the people cut from Tenncare, for the working-class soldiers trapped in this stupid, worthless war, for all the parentless children and childless parents and heartbroken spouses, I am ready to cry, weep an ocean for your pain.

But for you rich politicians, rich on the blood of the victims, your vice fed by working people who pay their fucking taxes, my heart has grown cold. I cry for the world but never for you. My heart is broken for my wife, my student, my housemate, my friend. For you, my eyes are dry.

And it is actions like these that make it a life challenge to seek radical, unconditional, antiauthoritarian love in such a loveless society in love with its own facile fantasy of love.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Wear Black

It’s not exactly an original fashion statement—but one I return to again and again. It started in high school as a not-so-subtle diversion from my brief days as a prep and a jock. It began with late nights sneaking into smoke-filled clubs to listen to raw, rebellious, raunchy rock.

It started then and never stopped. I still wear black. For a protest, as a statement, for formality, as a uniform, for a job, to hide the food stains.

In music, it’s everywhere, from Green Day to Coldplay. Black provides a somber uniform that unites punks and goths and God-fearing rockers. It’s back, like an AC-DC album title or a Rolling Stone lyric, “I see a red door, and . . . .”

From black armbands during ‘Nam to the militant anarchist black block in Seattle to the silent and pacifist Women in Black (WIB) that started in the Middle East, protesters love black. A statement that never loses style.

Women In Black write, “Participants in vigils wear black as a sign of mourning for all that is lost through war and violence. Through this calm and dignified, but still visual and telling way of protesting, we hope to inspire pacifists in many countries.”

Today, on the occasion of the new Johnny Cash fictional, filmic biography, I turn to the notorious man in black for inspiration. He reminds us why in his legendary lyrics for “Man in Black”:

Man in Black
Johnny Cash

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.